There was a time when herby Giloy lived a humble and extremely respected life in some desi homes where prevention and tradition were life's mantra. Desi boomers and the generation before them for centuries used clean stems of Giloy in traditional medicine to boost their immune system. Back in the day, they had it ground along with water, filtered through a sieve (soft muslin before the stainless steel sieve came into existence), and voila a shot of Giloy was ready!
My mum did this every morning empty stomach and pushed the family for it; especially for a few months last year (thank you Corona, you won - temporarily though). For trivial issues that my mum has, Giloy mixed with a pinch of fresh black pepper is her go-to instead of her beloved daughter. I won't take this one personally because Giloy became my go-to as well - I always wanted an elder sister I could look up to for support, finally found her in Giloy. Let’s find out why.
What is Giloy?
Giloy’s scientific name or Latin name is Tinospora Cordifolia (we know you will never take this name unless you are a scientist, but knowledge is power right?). Found almost everywhere in India and if you have a green thumb it is quite easy to grow at home because of its ability to develop quickly.
It is also known as “Guduchi” in Hindi and from the perspective of the benefits, it is the Gucci of ayurvedic herbs (for quality not price) and has a bitter taste just like truth.
Other Sanskrit names of Giloy are “amrita”, “amritavalli” and she is a highly regarded herb in the Charak Samhita. Stems have the highest nutritional content as they are anti-inflammatory & antipyretic in nature; some people juice the roots and leaves too. It helps in balancing out your body doshas (Vata, Kapha, and Pitta) and function at your optimum level.
Benefits of Giloy
Giloy is a strong immunity enhancer and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antipyretic properties. Antipyretic essentially means one which reduces fever. This little gem out there is the answer to good health.
For dengue fever:Consumption of Giloy juice whilst battling dengue fever provides immense support to your immunity as keeps your fever in check and does not allow the platelet count to drop to dangerous levels. I know this works because my mum had dengue (as Mumbai is always under construction and a breeding ground for mosquitoes) in October 2018 and her body managed the illness without being admitted to the hospital. Yes, she did fall really sick but she found immense support in this herbal juice under her physician's guidance.
For hay fever:
Hay fever is also known as allergic rhinitis which comes along with its host of symptoms such as nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal itching, obstruction, and watery eyes. Giloy helps alleviate these symptoms and balances out the Kapha (water and earth element) within your body because of its Rasayana (rejuvenating) properties.
It is widely used in traditional folk medicine to regulate blood glucose levels across India. Alkaloids found in Giloy stems reduce blood sugar levels naturally. It may even help prevent diabetes incorporated with a healthy lifestyle if you are someone with a diabetic lineage.
For digestion:Helps build a strong digestive system and strengthens against acidity, indigestion, flatulence, bloating, diarrhea because of its pachan (digestive) properties. A strong gastric system keeps the elements of the body in harmony leading to an illness-free life. Giloy is good for your gut.
Other Benefits & Side Effects
Research studies published in India showcase the benefits of Giloy in managing/treating arthritic pain, gout and cancer because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties. One may incorporate this herb to prevent such diseases. No major side effects of this herb have been reported yet. Do not consume Giloy if you are on an anti-diabetic allopathic treatment as it may drop blood sugar to undesirable levels. Please check with your physician always for contradictions in case of diabetes and autoimmune disorders.
How can you consume it?
Juicing is the way to go when it comes to Giloy as it is available in its closest natural form. There are powder and capsule options also available out there, depending on your consumption preference and requirement you may choose one.
You may also prepare it at home if you have the patience to find it or grow it, grind it, sieve it, and the courage to swallow the bitterness.
My maternal side swears by prevention and tradition and my paternal side swears by living the good life, there is always a healthy debate whether a shot of Giloy helps your immune system or a shot of rum. They say in times of calamity and suffering we understand the true essence and character of a human, Giloy even though not human did just that. My outlook is slightly modern, if you can have fun with someone every day; that too is a parameter of character and essence. I have found balance and a sweet spot between my genetic makeup; as long as it has taste and nutrition in day to day life I will have it.
Giloy proved her worth and made her space in our lives; like every woman out there who supports, evolves, and enhances every life she touches. What’s typically more interesting about Giloy is that her leaves are heart-shaped and her fruits red.
Authored by: Padmaja Rai
About the Author: Padmaja is a healthcare consultant and avid fitness enthusiast. She holds a masters' in bio-innovation and rare diseases from University of Pennsylvania. She is a firm believer in ancient Indian holistic healing.